HARRISONBURG, Va. - Stony Brook felt the absence of running back Stacey Bedell. More noticeably, SBU also felt the presence of James Madison's offense.
The Seawolves struggled to slow down No. 6 JMU's high-flying attack and fell, 38-20, Saturday afternoon in front of 21,653 fans at Bridgeforth Stadium. The Dukes (5-0, 2-0 Colonial Athletic Association) didn't quite match their season averages of 671 yards and 50.3 points per game, but they inflicted enough damage to hand Stony Brook (2-2, 1-2) its second straight conference loss.
"I think once we settled down, I think we competed well," Seawolves coach Chuck Priore said. "Certainly if we would've stayed away from the short fields and the mistakes that we made, it could've been a little different game in the fourth quarter. But I'm proud of our effort."
The Seawolves allowed 28 points in the first half and ran for only 109 yards in the game with Bedell, their top running back, sidelined with a shoulder injury.
"You want your best player," Priore said. "That being said, I think our other kids did a great job and we did some different things to try to move the ball."
Five minutes into the game, JMU running back Khalid Abdullah scored on a 16-yard run for a 7-0 lead. The Seawolves went three-and-out and James Madison followed with a 9-yard touchdown run by quarterback Vad Lee, the only CAA player who entered the day averaging more rushing yards per contest than Bedell.
After picking off SBU quarterback Joe Carbone, the Dukes needed only four plays to take a 21-0 lead. The Seawolves got on the board with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Conor Bednarski to receiver Steve Marino as the first quarter ended. But on the first possession of the second quarter, Abdullah scored to cap James Madison's fourth consecutive touchdown drive.
"They're going to get their yards and that's part of their offense," Priore said. "I think you're less worried about the yards and more worried about keeping the points to a manageable situation."
The Seawolves moved the chains only twice in the second quarter and failed to convert a fourth-and-10 from JMU's 28-yard line with 1:01 left in the first half, their last real chance to climb back into the game.
By the end of the third quarter, JMU hadn't punted and had outgained SBU 473-223. A pair of fourth-quarter touchdown runs by Carbone made the final margin a bit more respectable. His 1-yard run capped an 18-play, 70-yard drive, and his 3-yard run concluded a 14-play, 86-yard drive.
"We knew coming in we had a big task to do and we just tried to get after it," said defensive back Tyrice Beverette, who led SBU with 14 tackles and a forced fumble. "We started getting after it at the end, but it was a little bit too late."